Hodgetts fastest in storm-hit Snetterton testing

Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) continued his excellent recent form during official Renault UK Clio Cup testing at a storm-hit Snetterton 300 Circuit today, Friday, 2nd August, to edge out series leader Josh Files (Norwich) at the top of the timing screens by just 0.017 seconds.

Hodgetts, who goes into rounds 11 and 12 of the season at the Norfolk track this weekend equal fourth in the championship with three wins from the last five races and an unbroken run of five straight top two finishes, posted the best time of the day in changeable conditions during session one – lapping in 2m11.589 seconds (81.22mph).

“I don’t think anyone can take anything from today to be honest”, said the pace-setting KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria driver, “In the sort of conditions we had, you’ve got championship contenders who don’t want to risk too much, so you don’t get a clear picture.

“It’s nice to be fastest, better than struggling, but the times from today are unrealistic of how it’ll be tomorrow. Josh [Files] and Paul [Rivett] will be up at the front, as will we hopefully. It’ll be the same as usual I’m sure.”

Local hero Files, who resides in nearby Poringland, was a full 0.6 seconds quicker than Team Pyro stable-mate Alex Morgan (Reading) and the best of the Graduate Cup runners. JHR Developments’ Lee Pattison (Liversedge) lapped fourth fastest, only 0.1 seconds shy of Morgan and the quickest of the Masters Cup class contenders.

Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), who achieved his first podium of 2013 last time out at Croft, made it two KX Racing cars in the top five ahead of Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) and Total Control Racing’s Rob Smith (Telford).

Scuderia Vittoria’s Josh Wakefield (Colchester), Finesse Motorsport’s Jake Giddings (Wisbech) and the latter’s new team-mate Aaron Williamson (Spalding), who is now running under the Finesse Motorsport with AWR banner, rounded out the top 10.

Heavy rain and lightning – which resulted in localised power failures – hit the track between the day’s two Clio Cup outings, meaning a delayed start to the afternoon run. When the competitors did venture out onto the track, for a shortened 35-minute session, the circuit was very wet and the lead pace at the beginning was almost 15 seconds outside the best from the morning.

Times tumbled dramatically during the closing minutes as the track began to dry more and more with Colburn ending the afternoon outing quickest with a time of 2m18.389 seconds (77.23mph), still almost seven seconds away from Hodgetts’ session one best.

Erstwhile championship leader Paul Rivett (Banstead), who goes into the weekend just three points behind Files, was prevented from setting a representative time due to a broken gear linkage on his Names.co.uk/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering-run Clio.

“It was a bit of a waste of a day for us really, but we’ll be on it tomorrow – and it’s supposed to be dry”, said the three-time champion, “We won both races at Snetterton last year, and qualified at the front, so we know we should be strong.”

Renault UK Clio Cup action resumes tomorrow, Saturday, 3rd August, with qualifying taking place at 11.20 and round 11 following at 16.40. On Sunday, 4th August, round 12 is timetabled to commence at 11.10 – please check listings for details of ‘as-live’ coverage of Sunday’s encounter on ITV4 and ITV4 HD.

Renault UK Clio Cup is sponsored by www.buyoils.co.uk with support from ELF, NGK Spark Plugs, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Driver Standings (after Rd10):
1st Josh Files, 235pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 232pts; 3rd Alex Morgan, 215pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd10):
1st Team Pyro, 452pts; 2nd Scuderia Vittoria, 371pts; 3rd JHR Developments, 335pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd10):
1st Josh Files, 273pts; 2nd James Colburn, 248pts; 3rd Josh Cook, 215pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd10):
1st Simon Belcher, 251pts; 2nd Graham Field, 236pts; 3rd Finlay Crocker, 195pts